As the holidays come to an end and the kids head back to school, all pet owners should be aware of the psychological impact that this change in routine can have on our beloved family pets.
Separation anxiety is a common condition that currently affects millions of cats and dogs worldwide each year, and causes a pet to experience feelings of anxiousness when away from their owner. It can end up resulting in displays of extremely unwanted behaviour and is a major cause for many animals ending up in animal shelters.
During holiday periods our pets become accustomed to having everybody around, which is why they can drastically suffer when it becomes time for them to be left home alone all day.
Any signs of unusual behaviour such as excessive grooming/licking, destructive behaviour, urinating, barking, howling, digging, loss of appetite and physical illness can all be indicators that your pet is suffering from separation anxiety and needs urgent attention.
Some ways to help anxious pets to stay calm include leaving boredom busting toys, freezing treats in ice, taking your pet for a walk before you go, leaving your pet with a friend or doggy sitter and to practise desensitising them from sounds they relate to you leaving such as the jingling of car keys.
For many there is no stronger bond than the one between owner and pet and it is sad that this special bond can at times be the cause for pets to experience both physical and psychological problems, which is why pet owners must be aware and educated on how to tackle the problem.
Dr Mark Perissinotto